One of the great new features of Windows 2012 R2 is the possibility to customize Windows 2012 Start Screen using Group Policy. With the release just released it’s time to get started.
First you need to copy C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions from a Windows 2012 R2 Server to \\DOMAINFQDN\sysvol\DOMAINFQDN\Policies\PolicyDefinitions. Replace all existing files with the newer versions. For more details check this blog post Create a Central Store for Group Policy Administrative Templates.
Now that you have the new policy definition files in your Group Policy Central Store you can do the administration from any machine with the Group Policy Management Console installed.
Log on to a Windows 2012 R2 or Windows 8.1 machine and customize the start screen the way you want it to look for the users when they log in for the first time.
When you’re happy with the layout, run PowerShell as an Administrator and run the following command: export-startlayout –path “\\dc03\xa\Start Screen\WS2012R2\Start.xml” -as xml
To customize Windows 2012 Start Screen using Group Policy open Group Policy Management Console and navigate to Computer Configuration – Administrative Templates – Start Menu and Taskbar. Enable the Start Screen Layout policy and point it to the location of your XML file.
My test lab is running on Hyper-V with Windows 2012 R2 delivered by Citrix XenDesktop 7.1 & Machine Creation Services.
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